By Constance Ndeleko
According to phone survey conducted by Population Council (2020) to gauge Adolescents understanding of Covid-19 and its impact in the informal settlements of Nairobi (Kibera, Huruma, Kariobangi, Dandora, and Mathare) June 13-16, 2020; they are aware of the existence of the virus and measures taken to curb its spread though they need help to survive on their day to day activities.
A total of 1,022 adolescents between the ages 10 to 19 and the average age of respondents was 16 years and 84% were female
The survey shows that, at least 2 out of 5 adolescents do not know that they can be infected with COVID-19 and exhibit no symptoms or that they can be asymptomatic and pass the virus on to others. As 83% of adolescents have left their house in the past week.
89% of adolescents who had been attending school before the COVID-19 closures think they will return when it reopens. However, 59% report that difficulty in paying school fees could prevent them from returning. Girls are slightly less confident then boys that they will definitely return to school.
Nearly all (97%) report currently doing schoolwork or learning from home. Yet, a fifth (20%) haven’t been provided with lessons from their schools, and two in five (40%) cannot access the lessons provided. There is a clear gender digital divide in terms of access.
78% are eating less or skipping meals more often than before the COVID-19 pandemic began. 74% of adolescents are no longer receiving the daily free food from schools.
Half of adolescents reported depressive symptoms thinking about COVID-19 (81%) feel threatened, concerned, scared or anxious.
(95%) reported wearing a face mask the last time they left their home, and the vast majority (93%) reported washing their hands upon returning home.
Adolescents are leaving their house quite frequently, with boys leaving the house on 4 out of 7 days in the past week. While girls are leaving the house less, they are still leaving every other day on average.
(2%) know someone who tested positive for COVID-19, however 1 in 10 respondents (11%) say they have been tested for COVID-19 themselves.
5% of boys 10 to 14 years old and 2% of girls 10 to 14 years old are working, and another 2% of boys and 1% of girls in that younger age group are currently looking for work. 40% of boys 15 to 19 and 23% of girls 15 to 19 are currently working or looking for work.
Over half of girls (51%) have been having trouble accessing their preferred menstrual hygiene management product since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
1 in 10 adolescents (12%) reported that they are forgoing medical services. Within that group, the majority (66%) report that the reason they are forgoing care is that they or their parents cannot currently afford the cost of health services.
About half of girls and boys ages 10 to 19 are not currently in a relationship. 18% and 11% of 15 to 19 years old girls report having serious and casual boyfriends, respectively, compared to 24% and 7% of 15-19 year old boys. 5% of 15 to 19 year olds currently live with their partner
Only 0.5% of girls 15-19 have gotten pregnant since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this is a small percentage, applied onto a population of adolescent girls living in Nairobi’s informal settlements, is close to 600 unintended teenage pregnancies.
From the Data above these particular adolescents seem to understand about the pandemic however, boys are likely work and look for income as girls are forced to do house chores regardless of time spent out of their homes.
Clearly, there’s need for provision of good health care and services, food, essential like pads to adolescent to ease the economic pinch, which can lead to despair and desperate moment during the pandemic.
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